BRISTOL - All four area baseball teams reached the postseason in 2019, with St. Paul leading the way with a Class S semifinals appearance, Terryville nearly pulling an upset of Class S top-seeded Holy Cross in the quarterfinals, Bristol Central reaching the Class L second round and Bristol Eastern rebounding from a long losing streak to make the Class L postseason.
With five selections on the 2018-19 All-Press Baseball Team, St. Paul leads the way. Terryville and Bristol Central are right behind them with three apiece, and Bristol Eastern’s lone selection rounds out the list.
Julian Thayer, who committed this season to the University of Rhode Island, was St. Paul’s top arm and starting left fielder, earning All-State honors after a junior season in which he went 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 35 innings, in addition to hitting .371/.443/.586 with eight doubles, 16 RBI, 24 runs scored and 10 stolen bases.
Ryan Daniels, a freshman, slashed .333/.464/.679 with 21 RBI, 10 doubles, 15 stolen bases, 25 runs scored and 17 walks, and sophomore Shaun Remillard finished with a .325 average with 22 RBI and nine stolen bases.
Junior Walker Sharp pitched himself to a 9-2 record with a 2.68 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings, and his finest moment at the plate came during the Falcons’ come-from-behind 3-2 quarterfinals win over Portland with a game-winning two-run hit.
Ryan Parent, a junior who earned All-Iron in the NVL, slashed .429/.556/.529 with 20 RBI, 19 runs and a team-high 30 hits for a team that finished with a 15-5 regular season record, earned a six-seed in the playoffs and closed with a 6-4 loss to Coventry in the semifinals.
“It was a great year to play for St. Paul and making it into the semifinals,” Parent said. “As a team, we look forward to working harder over the offseason to have another successful year under [head coach Vic Rinaldi, pitching coach Jarrett Stawarz and assistant Bob Hansen].”
Terryville’s 9-11 season, in which the Kangaroos won two straight before falling 6-5 in eight innings to Holy Cross, was led by left-handed junior pitcher Albert Molina, the team MVP who earned second-team All-Berkshire League honors. He had an 8-2 record with a 1.94 ERA, .197 opponent batting average, 54 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 59 innings pitched.
“Albert was the rock of our pitching staff this season,” Terryville coach Brian Rosano said. “We knew that he gave us a legitimate chance to win every time he took the mound, and our team’s play was dramatically better when he pitched.”
Zack Rinkavage, a junior, was the Roos’ offensive mainstay, hitting .458 with a .559 on-base percentage, 11 runs scored and a team-low five strikeouts. Rinkavage played every inning for Terryville at shortstop this season.
“Zack was as close to an irreplaceable player as we had,” Rosano said. “He was a solid defensive player for us throughout the year, and will continue to improve his range and arm strength in the years to come.”
Justin Carasone, a senior who transferred to Terryville prior to his junior season, was a critical piece for the team for two years. In 2019, he averaged .344 with a .556 on-base percentage with 12 runs scored.
“Justin controls the strike zone and was at his best with the game on the line, coming up with several clutch hits, both in the regular season and especially in the state tournament,” Rosano said.
Bristol Eastern, which started 5-0, lost 11 in a row but rebounded with a strong finish to reach the postseason, was led by ace pitcher, senior Jagger Duquette, one of the top arms in the CCC who earned all-conference honors. The right-hander, headed to the University of Bridgeport, was a two-time All-CCC and two-time All-Press recipient who finished the 2019 campaign with a 5-2 record, 2.17 ERA and a 55:14 K:BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings.
Bristol Central, which earned a home playdown game and pulled off an upset of No. 3 seed Platt Tech in the first round, was led by All-State junior catcher Jake Santiago.
Santiago enjoyed a breakout season in which he slashed .421/.464/.513 with seven doubles, 19 RBI and 15 runs scored.
“Jake is a good catcher that handles a young pitching staff and also stepped up offensively,” Rams coach Bunty Ray said. “He earned All-State this year because of his presence on the field as a standout player. I have enjoyed watching him grow into a leadership role with a young team.”
Gavin Greger, a freshman left-handed pitcher who earned All-CCC honors, emerged as one of the Rams’ top arms. He was one of the rotation’s mainstays, finishing with a 2-4 record with a 3.64 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings pitched. At the plate, he slashed .364/.488/.635 with 16 RBI, 21 runs scored and 16 walks.
“Gavin had a tremendous year offensively and on the mound,” Ray said. “He made some great adjustments as the year went on and hit in the clutch while also being asked to close games pitching. He competes all the time and is a player that will make any team competitive.”
Evan Bouchard, a junior, also earned all-conference accolades after hitting .360/.402/.387 with 12 RBI and 21 runs scored.
“Evan really stepped up in his junior year,” Ray said. “He was very steady at shortstop. Offensively, he scored a lot of runs and was able to impact games. He is a player that continues to get better.”
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com